...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

G takes a missionary fireside to heart

 On Sunday our family attended a missionary devotional for our area.  It was pretty great.  There was lots of singing and testimonies and some videos and it was just a really nice evening.  As we were leaving there was a table of pamphlets and handouts in the foyer.

When we got into the car I found that my eight year old had grabbed a copy of the Book of Mormon and a couple of pamphlets.  He said he thought they were cool.

I explained to him that the missionaries didn't really intend those things for those of us who already have them, they put them there so you could give them to someone else if you knew someone who could be blessed by them.  I thought he would be disappointed at that, but he wasn't.

Gavin immediately brightened and started thinking of friends that he could share the message of the gospel with.

Well, today, all on his own.  He followed through on those thoughts.  He brought his brand new Book of Mormon out and told me he was going to go deliver it to his friend.  I suggested he maybe write his testimony or a message about the book in the front so it would be personalized for his friends.  He loved that idea and immediately went to work.

After carefully crafting his message, he walked on his own to his friend's home and delivered to book (also asking his friend to come over and play -- can't be all business).  His friend took the book but had errands to run with his parents.

Gavin came home beaming.  He walked in the door and said, "Even though he can't come play right now it doesn't really matter because what I really wanted to do most was to make sure he knew about the gospel.  Now he can read it and know the truth."  I folded him into a hug (that may have been a little too squishy for him) and just loved him to bits.

I am very proud of this young man.  This was his project, he did it all on his own without any kind of pressure or coaxing from his parents.  In fact, maybe his parents could do a bit better at following his example.  I sure do love that boy.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our latest hike...errr, walk

Remember I told you we were going to try to go on a hike every week?
Well, this week was a bit tricky.  

Last week we ran into snow and it sort of muddied our plans a bit.  This week, it snowed several inches (like 9 where we hiked last week) in the mountains on Tuesday.  That's spring in Utah.

However, it sort of put a damper on my plans so we had to come up with something different.

No worries, Jordan River Parkway Trail to the rescue!

We opted for the Murray section of the trail since it included several parks and a nature preserve to spice up our hike (cough, cough, walk) and help us stay entertained.  We left Josh at home to study for his upcoming Praxis test and off we went!

We parked in the lot at 4800 South and started out.

Lovely wetlands with viewing areas were great for the kids.

Gavin exploring the grass on the side of the trail.

Our adorable crew. (Notice the semi-grumpy face of one near teen ager who wasn't super happy to be forced into this activity.)

Cutie pies (and the still disenchanted near teen).

However, my sweet girl did perk up enough to give her younger brother a
piggy-back ride.  No wonder I love her even when she lets attitude dribble out.

We tossed pebbles into this "spring" and made wishes.  It was great!
 And after an hour and a half we came to the end of our 3.5 mile walk/hike and were rewarded with fun at a great little playground and picnic area (Walden Park).

I laid out the lunch while the kidlets enjoyed sun and water and refreshed themselves for the walk back to the car after we ate.

The park featured a splash pad, two playgrounds and a river feature so there was something here for everyone.

Our boys loved working on their parkour skills...some of them ended up wet, but it was nice to cool off and they dried off very quickly in the sun so it was all good.

Awwww, my babies!

The walk back did involve a little bit of whining about sore feet and sore knees, but seven miles of walking can do that to the best of us.  We passed off back packs so Mom could act as a pack mule for the littlest of the sore feeters and we all made it back with all our parts intact.  Lucky us!

Even if it wasn't exactly a hike the way we originally planned, it was still a really great way to spend the day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The priesthood and me (one woman's view)

I am not exactly a feminist, let me just get that out of the way from the very beginning.

That said, I am actually pretty proud of my gender and the life I have because I am a woman.

I love being female.  It is a gigantic part of who I am as a person and that one, simple genetic fact greatly affects my daily choices and views.  I love that this lady label of mine gives me the opportunity to be a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend in a way that is different than the roles I see my husband fill.  His position as father, brother, son, and husband are not more or less important than my roles, but they aren't the same as my roles either. 

Being different does not make either one of us lesser or greater (just like five pounds of grapes and five pounds of apples carry equal weight even though they are not the same).  We are each confident and assertive about our particular positions in our relationship and life.  We function as partners, neither one more important than the other, but also neither one exactly the same as the other.  We come together to make choices and listen to each other when problems in our family arise.  To be honest, I am the more vocal and dominant partner when it comes to our family life.  At home, for the most part, I run the show. 

Josh is great to support me in that, but he thinks for himself (which is sometimes annoying when it gets in the way of what I think).  He is willing to put his foot forward when he thinks things are headed in the wrong direction or that there is a better way to handle something.  That’s when we put our heads together and work out a plan we can both be comfortable with.  Sometimes it takes some arguing to get to that point.  Sometimes we get there without opinion spikes and disagreements.  Either way, we don’t more forward until we both clearly see the vision of what we believe will be best for our family.

As you know, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have been watching closely as my church has been pulled into the media arena of late and labeled as sexist and discriminatory.  Some women feel that because they are not able to personally hold the priesthood (the power of God on Earth) they are being left out and set aside.  To some degree, I understand how those who aren’t a part of this church can buy into that.  It might seem chauvinistic and unfair.

However, for those who have lived this religion and been neck deep in the doctrines and truths surrounding it, it is harder for me to understand how they, even as women, can feel so slighted and unimportant. 

Yes, the roles of men and women in this church are different, but neither one is of lesser importance than the other.  Both are endowed with power and authority through the priesthood.  (To better understand the views of the church regarding the priesthood and this issue please read this article…it explains things beautifully.)

It is through the powers of the priesthood that ALL things are done in this church.  When anyone – man or woman – is asked to serve, hands are laid on their head by one holding priesthood authority and they are given the rights and powers to act, to teach, to lead within that sphere. 

I have access to the priesthood just as much as my husband does even though he holds it and I do not.  He can no more lay his hands on his own head to bless or guide or discern things for himself than I can.  The priesthood is a powerful piece of God’s plan for us on Earth and this sacred power is equally available to every member of God’s family whether they are male or female. 

Over the years, I have had many chances to serve in positions in this church.  I have held leadership roles from time to time and have ALWAYS been accepted and listened to by my priesthood leaders.  I have been part of the decision making counsels within my ward and have ALWAYS felt like my thoughts and feelings and inspiration and ideas were taken seriously.  In fact, on many occasions, I believe my insights were earnestly sought after because I am female.  Those in leadership roles WANTED my view so that they could more fully understand the big picture and know which direction we, as a ward, should move.   As a sweet man said to me recently, “Priesthood holders may be the head, but the women are the neck.  We desperately need both.”

I was a valuable part of those counsels and was treated with reverence and respect as I functioned within them.

My husband has also had the chance to serve in leadership roles within our church.    I cannot tell you how many times over the years he has been faced with a concern or problem and has come to me -- as his wife -- for suggestions and guidance.  Even now, as the bishop, he looks for my insight with issues our ward is facing.  He VALUES the fact that I have a different view than he does.  He has often used my perceptions to broaden his perspective and help him get a better handle on situations. I did the same with him when I was the one in a leadership role.  His insights were a great blessing to me as well.

My thoughts and feelings are not discounted or ignored simply because of my gender.  I am invited and encouraged to function in priesthood power even though I am not male.

Now, I am not implying that no priesthood holder has ever overlooked or ignored the views of women around him.  In fact, I am absolutely certain that that has happened.  I am certain that that has happened in almost every arena in the world at one time or another.  It is inappropriate wherever and whenever it happens.  Discriminating against an essential and insightful gender is simply wrong.  No one is of lesser value or worth because they were born male or female.  Both sexes are of immense, eternal importance.

But they are not identical and we shouldn’t expect them to be.

Women are not called on to hold the priesthood, but they have complete access to its power.  They are not left out any more than men are because men do not have the chance to be mothers and relief society presidents and young women leaders and primary presidency members.  We each have DIFFERENT roles, but each role is vital.

Within our church, God has authorized worthy men to be the bearers of the priesthood.  They are given the charge to act within that sphere to bless the lives of God’s children.  The priesthood they hold can only be used to bless the lives of others – both men and women – not to elevate or magnify themselves. 

Men cannot choose to bestow the priesthood on women because it is not their priesthood to give.  It is God’s.  He has given the duty of stewardship to His sons.  That is their role.

But He has not forgotten his daughters.  He has given them the stewardship to nurture and guide and create and correct within their world.  They are of deepest value to Him.  Their role is not of less importance, it is just different.

I am a woman.  I am proud of that.  I am also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am proud of that too.  Those two facts are not at odds for me.  They are each crucially important in my soul.  They are each a fundamental part of who I am.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cecret lake remains a secret from our family

So, one of our plans for the summer is to do some hiking.  I LOOOVE hiking for several reasons.
1. It is fun.  
2. It makes you feel good.  I love feeling muscles work for a good cause.
3. You get to be outside and enjoy the beauties of this Earth.
4. You get to have your whole family trapped together for an extended period of time because most hikes take at least a couple hours so hiking doubles as forced family togetherness under the guise of exploring canyons and lakes.

Anyway, so I've been researching family hikes (because some of us are still small and need things that aren't too rough) and today we headed out on our first adventure.

We chose to head up Little Cottonwood Canyon in order to wander our way to Cecret Lake.  Neither Josh nor I had ever been here before so it was new territory for us, but our trail guide said it was a great hike from June - September so we set out.

As we passed the town of Alta, we came to a place where the paved road turns to dirt and gravel.  That was on our printout, we expected it.  What we didn't expect was that the gates would be closed and locked and no vehicles would be allowed in.

Ok, no big deal, we were there to hike and how far could it really be from the start of gravel road to the trail head at Albion Campground (we later learned it was about two miles each way).

And off we went.

Even though we were walking on a groomed road, it was still beautiful!  The scenery was amazing and the views were incredible.  I was loving it!

We saw lots of potguts (is that what everyone else calls them?) and squirrels and big, fat mice.  We even found a sparkly, purple beetle that played dead for us to try to convince us to leave him alone (and we did after we flipped him over a couple times and he intentionally flopped right back on his back with his legs angles up into the air).  

Because of the snow melt there was dozens of little, baby waterfalls and pools to look at.  The weather was great, it was perfect...


we got to Albion Campground and the actual trail head for the Cecret Lake hike.  That's when things started to get snowy.

Now, we are native Utahans so a little snow doesn't really scare us, but the problem came in the heaping piles of mushy, melting snow that were completely covering large sections of the trail.  We could heave our way over the snow alright (even though it was really tall and very squishy), but we weren't entirely sure where the trail was.  Sometimes we could find it when it came out from under its white covering, and sometimes we had to search pretty hard to find the next section of the path.  Since we had not been here before we weren't confident in the necessary turns and eventually (after Aubrey put her foot through a layer of snow and landed in an undercut of frozen melt water that was running below the surface) we decided to save this section of the hike for another day.

So we didn't see Cecret Lake after all.


Well, we swallowed our disappointment (actually, Aubrey wasn't very disappointed, she and her soggy foot wanted nothing more than to head back to the car) and ate our lunch and started back.

It really was an amazing day for a hike and it was honestly incredible to spend all these hours with the people I love best on this planet.

(Especially I love hanging out with this guy.)

I guess the fact that we didn't make it all the way is the perfect excuse to go back and try it again sometime soon.  

That sounds like chapter two of a really really great day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My clandestine language skills

Being a mother for the past fourteen years has helped me develop a very specific set of skills.

Some of these skills are more pragmatic than others.

One ability I only occasionally pull out of my pocket anymore is my childhood language talent.  This particular skill set allows me to interpret language.  It comes in ultra handy when chatting with toddlers (and, actually, was very nice to have when speaking with three beloved stroke victims over the past couple of years).  

It's also a usable skill when kindergarteners bring you a paper and say, "Mom, look what I wrote!"

Since many kindergarten students are just beginning to develop the skill of sounding out words in order to write them down, their spelling is sometimes left a bit wanting.  

And that's where my shelved language skills are put to the test.

Last night, Logan brought his dad and me this paper and asked us to read what he wrote.  So I plunged in head first.

(In case your toddler language skills are a little rusty this sentence reads: "I was playing in my tree house doing lot of..."  If you are a connoisseur of Jigsaw Jones you will recognize this as the start of the first chapter of one of his books.  We happen to have said book on CD and it is a favorite around here.)
Josh looked at me in awe as I waded through this sentence.  He sometimes forgets how impressive my language skills are when you witness them first hand.  

If you want to brush up on your skills in this arena, feel free to drop by, I have plenty of material on hand.  In fact, I imagine Logan would happily personalize a little something for you if you asked.

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